Kering-owned fashion brand Gucci is in the spotlight again - this time for its unconventional move to feature straitjackets during Milan Fashion Week. Further thrusting it in the limelight was one of its models Ayesha Tan-Jones, who made a silent protest during catwalk.
In a video posted by her on Instagram, Tan-Jones was seen holding up both hands, with the hand-written words "mental health is not fashion" across her palms. It has garnered over 9,400 likes in a day, with many applauding her for the move. “I chose to protest the Gucci S/S 2020 runway show as I believe, as many of my fellow models do, that the stigma around mental health must end," she said.
In another follow-up post, also attracting over 9,500 likes, she said many other Gucci models in the show felt "just as strongly" about the depiction of straitjackets. She has decided to donate 100% of her fee to mental health charities, while other models have chosen to donate a portion of theirs. Thanking her fans for the support, Tan-Jones added: "I want to use this opportunity to remind people that this sort of bravery, is only a simple gesture compared to the bravery that people with mental health issues show everyday."
This has prompted Gucci to put up a post on Instagram, explaining that the "blank-styled clothes" were statement for the fashion show and will not be sold. Representing how most extreme version of a uniform dictated by society and those who control it, the straitjackets aim to show how through fashion, "power is exercised over life to eliminate self-expression".
The straitjackets were showcased as part of the Gucci Spring Summer 2020 collection of 89 looks, which looks to convey fashion as a way to allow people to walk through fields of possibilities, cultivate beauty, make diversity sacrosanct and celebrate the self in expression and identity.
In February, Gucci also copped flak for the release of a black polo neck sweater that bears similarity to a racially-offensive golliwog. It apologised and took down the product from its online and physical stores, after it caused an outrage online on its racial profiling of the “blackface” imagery. Golliwogs are grotesque creatures, with very dark, often jet black skin, large white-rimmed eyes, red or white clown lips, and wild, frizzy hair. The golliwog was a story book character created in 1895, that have caused a debate amongst many if it is an icon or a racist symbol.
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